July 1, 2019 – Awake Brain


Anchor lead: A new microscope allows researchers to watch brain activity in real time, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Lots of diseases and conditions affect the brain, and now a new mini microscope developed by Arvind Pathak and colleagues at Johns Hopkins may help researchers study them more effectively in awake and moving animal models.

Pathek: We built a microscope that allows us to peer into the brain of awake animals, awake and free living animals. The reason that is important is that when we want to image the brains of animals either with a disease or within a healthy animal, you need to anesthetize them and knock them out, and that really affects how the brain works. So what we did is we built a special microscope that allows us to look at what’s happening inside the brain while the animals are wide awake.   :23

Pathek says the new microscope is constructed from 3D printed custom parts and other readily available materials, is relatively inexpensive and can be re-used. The device is docked onto the animal’s head and can monitor in real time images of brain activity, without the need for anesthesia, which clearly impacts brain function. He hopes data gathered in this way will enable researchers to more fully understand brain function in an animal that’s both moving and awake. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.